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Perceive the entire Torah at a glance

Updated: May 19, 2022

Reproducing the Torah word for word as colour swatches allows the viewer to perceive the entire Torah simultaneously, in focus with optimum colour vision, without turning ones head.

The approach of translating the Torah to the international language of colour is also reflected in the structure of this layout, which visually guides the audience through the work.

Each of the Five Books of Moses, the Torah, is presented as a panel, running in the Hebrew direction of right to left. While the five sections hint to the fact that the composition is Five (of something), the right to left direction is evident from the inclusion of the larger squares denoting the start of each section. These are in the format of a drop capital letter, alluding to this representing a text. The drop capitals, each representing the name of the Torah book it heads, are in a Jewish Ashkenazic (Germanic in origin) style in an angular form. These are complimented, at the foot of each column, with the final lines of each book, centred in a style seen in Sephardic (Spanish in origin), manuscripts, enhancing the international theme of the work.

The original artwork is designed as a series of five panels – each panel containing one of the Five Books of Moses. Combined dimension of the artwork is 140cm wide by 89cm deep (55" x 35"). If viewed from a distance of 140cm (55"), even the finest line detail is discernible and the entire image falls within a 60° observer angle – encompassing the colour accurate span of human vision (whereas colour perception degrades in areas of peripheral vision).

The Torah text is reproduced word for word in its Gematriart colour, flowing in the Hebrew reading direction of right to left. The five colour bars at the top of the image define each of the five books of the Torah, each colour is the name of the book it represents. The colour bars at the foot of the image are are the colour achieved from mixing every words‘ colour value in the Torah – the average colour of the Gematriart Torah.

I set the following parameters in order to perceive the entire Torah at a glance:

  • Standing a 150cm (60") distance from the work (the optimum distance for focussing on viewing artwork), the entire work should fall within a 60° viewing angle (this being the span of human colour accurate vision). This restricts the work to a maximum of 150cm (60") width.

  • For the individual colour squares to be discernible, each needs to be a minimum of 2mm x 2mm (0.08" x 0.08").

  • To be transportable (i.e. to fit the width of my car), the maximum height of the work can be 89cm (35").

This resulted in the artwork being of similar proportions to the ratio of width to height of the Ark as described in the Torah – 2.5 cubit wide by 1.5 cubit high. This provided the inspiration for enclosing the work in a gold edged wood frame with gold rings on the four corners (of the short sides), as described in the Torah.

On completion of the large but portable work (yes it did just fit in the back of the car), I considered how the 2.5 x 1.5 cubit ratio of the work compared in scale to the size of the original Ark. Phenomenally, the definition of a biblical cubit (when used for describing an item of importance), resulted in the size of the artwork being a perfect match to the size of the Ark in the Tabernacle, as described in the Torah. That likewise was constructed to be 'portable' and in context this suggest that when the high priest was in the Holy of Holies, his span of perfect colour vision perfectly encompassed the entire Ark at a single glance – without the need to turn ones head.

In addition to the full size original, a poster of this work is available.

Poster format: 70cm x 50cm (27.5" x 19.5").

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